[KS] US North Korea GI Defector

Afostercarter at aol.com Afostercarter at aol.com
Mon Jul 19 12:21:28 EDT 2004

Michael Harrold, whose memoir of his seven years
in Pyongyang as an English-language reviser comes
out from Wiley in a few days (Amazon URL below),
mentions meeting three GI defectors on a film shoot.
They weren't talkative, and he doesn't name the others.

Although Pyongyang today has an expat community of
diplomats, aid workers and so on, it must also still be 
dotted with tiny secret foreign ghettoes of the dodgy.

Besides the GI trio, these include maybe two kinds of
Japanese: the 1970 Red Army hijackers, supposedly 
soon to go home at last; plus any Japanese abductees
not yet acknowledged and still alive.

And I seem to recall that Shin Sang-ok and Choi Eun-hee's
memoir mentions her meeting a mysterious Lebanese or
Jordanian. But I think that was at Myohyang-san.

Does anyone know what happens to South Korean defectors?
I spotted a couple once, but was forbidden to approach them.

Larger and less fortunate categories - thousands of Japanese
wives, and of S. Korean abductees and retained POWs and
their families (mainly from the 1950-53 period) - are, by contrast,
probably anywhere but in Pyongyang. The trickle of old ROK
soldiers who manage to escape to Seoul (with scant help from Seoul)
seem mostly to have spent a lifetime down the mines of Hamgyong.

Any living US MIAs? Fantasy, I suspect. 
But in North Korea, you never know. 

Aidan FC

Michael Harrold's book:

In a message dated 19/07/2004 15:48:55 GMT Standard Time, kimcheegi at gmail.com 

> Subj:Re: [KS] US North Korea GI Defector 
> Date:19/07/2004 15:48:55 GMT Standard Time
> From:kimcheegi at gmail.com
> Reply-to:Koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws
> To:koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws
> Sent from the Internet 
> On Wed, 14 Jul 2004 03:35:18 +0000, Michael Breen
> <mikebreen46 at hotmail.com> wrote:
> > As far as I know, 5 GIs have gone North since the end of the Korean War. 
> Four were in the early 60s, including Jenkins. Did you ever hear anything 
> about the others? The last was a Private Joe White in 1982, I think. White 
> reportedly drowned in a swimming accident and his belongings were sent to his 
> parents in the US.
> > 
> > Mike Breen
> Mike,
> There's a site with the November 1982 Life Magazine Article covering
> White's story at (begin quote)
> <http://www.maryellenmark.com/text/magazines/life/905W-000-020.html> 
> November 1982
> Reporting: David Friend
> At first the puzzled U.S. Army simply called him AWOL. Facts were
> scarce. Around two a.m., August 28, Pfc. Joseph White, 20, walked away
> from Guard Post Oullette on the South Korean side of the Demilitarized
> Zone, shot off the lock of a gate and disappeared into no-man's-land.
> Within the day, North Korean broadcasts were exulting that an American
> soldier had "requested political asylum." If true, it was the first
> U.S. defection to North Korea in 17 years, the fifth since the DMZ was
> established in 1953 dividing South Korea from the Communist North. The
> previous GIs were used briefly for propaganda and were never heard
> from again. Back in Joseph White's hometown of St. Louis, his father,
> Norval, 52, a painter on a General Motors assembly line, insisted that
> his son had been captured. His wife, Kathleen, said through her tears,
> "It just doesn't make any sense. Why would Joey want to leave his ice
> cream, his chocolate syrup, his money?" But by the end of the week, a
> videotape of the young soldier shattered his family's hopes. Speaking
> in the Pyongyang People's Cultural Palace, Pfc. White, still in
> uniform, condemned U.S. militarism and then led a chant in homage to
> North Korean dictator Kim Ilsung. Joe White was a strange defector to
> Communism. He had been the arch-conservative in a family of
> blue-collar Democrats, a cold warrior who, at 13, wrote to his senator
> to warn of the Communist menace. Turned down by West Point, Joe
> enrolled in Missouri's Kemper Military School and College, where he
> was regarded as a loner. A fair student but a poor athlete, he dropped
> out and enlisted in the Army after deciding Kemper was full of
> "losers." In letters home from Korea, samples of which appear on the
> following pages, White gave no hint that his political ideas were
> shifting. If anything, he seemed only more fanatical. "It was drummed
> into him," Norval White recalls, " Hey, buddy. When you cross that
> line, you're gone forever." (end quote)
> <http://www.maryellenmark.com/text/magazines/life/905W-000-020.html> 
> Apparently Mary Ellen Mark was the photographer for the story, and has
> been kind enough to host both the photos and the story over at her
> website.
> Regards,
> Charlie,
> The KimcheeGI

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